U.S. Intelligence Officials: Snowden May be Russian Puppet

Tuesday, 04 Feb 2014 01:29 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

Edward Snowden, who continues to leak classified National Security Agency information from asylum in Moscow, may be under the influence of the Russian government, top U.S. officials told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday.

“Yes, there is the possibility that he is under that influence ,” Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn told lawmakers, according to The Hill.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper added that it would be “incredulous” if Russian intelligence agents have not spoken with Snowden, who is now living in Russia under political asylum after abruptly leaving his NSA contractor's job in Hawaii last year.

Clapper said Snowden's ability to continue living in Moscow may hinge on his cooperation. He also told the congressional panel that "the nation is less safe and its people less secure" because of Snowden's leaks to newspapers, which he suggested are much broader than people realize.

"We will be accounting for this for months, maybe years ahead," he said, according to The Hill.

Last month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers also suggested on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Snowden may have had help — possibly from Russia — in revealing details of key surveillance programs last year.

"I believe there's questions to be answered there," Rogers said on the program. "I don't think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB,” he added, referring to Russia's primary intelligence service.

Rogers was backed in that assessment by former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, who also said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that Snowden's disclosures are too sophisticated for him not to be getting some sort of guidance.

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